Meeting Muhammad Yunus

2012-01-30 13:31

To meet Muhammad Yunus. Wow! While I won't push through crowds and stand in lines for a music concert, there is very little I won't do to access people who re-engineer economies as he has.

Yunus cited the overwhelming concentration on making money in today's world as a chief cause of the current status of the global economy. He asserted that humans are much bigger than money making and we need to reinvent our purpose.

He used the analogy of the current world being like an old car you can only take for gorcery shopping. Attempts to fix this car are futile and a whole redesign is required. It is within our own capacity to solve the problems we face. But its greed and the old car that hold us back.

He proposes that companies must use their core competencies to tackle the issues immediately around them. Examples are a Danone nutritional programme that ensures school children get enough yoghurt to overcome malnutrition; and secondly Adidas spending years designing a shoe that costs less than euro to avert the array of illnesses that enter the body through the feet if you dont have shoes.

I was delighted that Yunus echoed a fundamental sentiment I hold that the mobile phone and the internet are crucial enablers in solving most of the worlds problems. Examples are women using a phone device to take ultrasound pictures and then sending the images to the doctor for analysis, or being able to measure your temperature or heart rate.

In education solutions can be found where a single group of teachers can teach or help support millions of children through the mobile device.

When asked where geographically he expected these innovations to come from, Yunus presented a belief that resonates with me. That innovation comes from the people who are facing the problems. The more desperate you are, the  more likely you are to solve problems.

So innovation will come from developing countries and the West will not 'save' developing countries.

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